Posts Tagged “Amos”

We had a missionary visit our church about a year ago and she cited these statistics:

  • 250,000 Christians martyred for their faith each year based on a military intelligence source.
  • 171,000 Christians martyred for their faith each year based on reporting in the magazine Christianity Today.
  • Therefore during a typical church service, 30,000 people are being martyred!

Wow! If you are blessed to be a believer living in the United States, there’s a good chance that:

  1. You didn’t know these statistics; and
  2. You’ve been complaining a lot lately about how our country is sliding away from faith and embracing activities and lifestyles that are not consistent with God’s Word.

Well, as a country, our morality has been in downfall for many, many years and we still have more religious freedom and less persecution than most countries in the world. Perhaps we ought to be more thankful and pray more while complaining less.

I read the book of Amos this morning and was struck by how many of the judgments against Israel we are experiencing as a nation. Read Amos chapter 4 particularly and consider our weather patterns, the terrorist attacks against our nation, the wars in which we are losing brave young men and women, the divisiveness that characterizes much of our discourse.

I believe we are experiencing the beginning judgment of God and are drawing ever nearer to the serious judgment of God.

On this fourth of July, this day to celebrate the birth of our nation, take some time to:

  1. Remember and pray for those around the world who live in countries who actively persecute those who call on the name of Christ.
  2. Praise God for the blessings of this country.
  3. Pray that we would return to being a nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Remember that Christ set us free to become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6). Praise God for your freedom – both from sin and for living in a free country – and step into your role as salve of righteousness or slave of God. Pray, in humility and brokenness for the United States – that we would return to God – and live in submission to God’s ways.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

Make God’s Word the cornerstone of your summer reading schedule. Join us as we read through a few chapters of the Bible each day. Use our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules to stay on track with us. If you fall behind – don’t worry about it! Just keep reading. I am praying that God will reveal Himself to you as you read each chapter. Ask Him to and He will.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the July/August bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the July/August 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The July Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

I hope you’ll join us! I love the way God’s Word seems to speak to my specific situations as I read through His Word. I know He’ll do that for you, too. I’d love to hear about it. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for July is below.

July 2013 RARE Reading Schedule JPG

 

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the July/August bookmark.

Share with others what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Enjoy God as you begin to enjoy summer!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the July/August 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the August Reading Plan Here

Here’s the August reading plan:

Aug 2012 Resting at the River's Edge Reading Plan JPG

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the July/August bookmark.

Share with others what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Enjoy God as you begin to enjoy summer!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the July/August 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the July Reading Plan Here

Here’s July’s reading plan:

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 3 (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

In our study of Habakkuk so far, we’ve seen Habakkuk’s burden for his country and God’s response when Habakkuk poured out his heart. Remember, that God urged Habakkuk to “look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed.” Just as I wrote that I was again blessed that God so specifically told Habakkuk where to look and what to watch – He didn’t want Habakkuk to miss this! God is so good – when we take our complaints to Him and then listen for His answer to us, He will tell us where to look and what to watch for! Again, I am reminded of the verse Amos 3:7:

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7

We saw Habakkuk’s faith surge then falter again after God’s first response. So he poured out his heart again. After pouring out his burden to the Lord, he picked himself up and said:

I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the LORD will say to me and how he will answer my complaint.
Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT)

We have to do that sometimes, don’t we? After pouring our hearts out to God we kind of straighten our shoulders and say “OK, I’ve cried out about this enough. I’m going to quit talking and listen and watch for God’s answer.” Well, that’s where we left Habakkuk. Let’s begin to listen in on the Lord’s response by reading it in two translations:

2Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else. 3But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NLT)

2Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NIV)

There may be some historical reference in this passage, that public announcements were engraved or written in large letters and posted in the marketplace for all to see and read, but there is great application to our own lives. When we have cried out to God, then set ourselves apart to hear His voice, we ought not to forget the important step of writing down God’s answers. In Habakkuk’s day, the messages were written so that a runner could read them and carry them on to others. In our lives, writing what God reveals to us serves several purposes:

  • Like the runners of Habakkuk’s day, we also run through life. Taking time to write the message causes us to pause and consider it. These are not simply messages about upcoming events. This is revelation from God. God is revealing Himself and His plans to us. Is there a thing more worthy of being put in permanent form? Notice that both translations use the words “tablets” – these are not messages to be written on parchment. These are messages that deserve a more permanent record
  • The process of writing the message often helps to clarify it. Notice that Habakkuk’s letters are to be large and clear. God wants everyone to understand. I often find that writing brings great clarity and understanding to what God has said.
  • Revelation from God that has been clearly written down serves as faith mile markers with which we can track our journey. When I read my old journal entries, I am reminded that there was a time when I didn’t know some of the things I know now. As I read about the struggles I went through to learn some lesson of faith (often struggles that have been long forgotten), I am encouraged that my current faith struggle will also lead to growth and a greater understanding of the goodness of God.
  • Writing the message makes it available to posterity. I have one of my grandmother’s old diaries. While much of it is filled with everyday kinds of things, what a blessing it is to read the entries that talk about her dreams for life and answers to her prayers.

I know that not everyone is a writer and the thought of writing the vision and making it plain almost paralyzes you. There are other ways to record the vision. Here are some ideas for those of you who are disinclined to write the vision:

  • Record the vision. Speak into a tape recorder or record it through your computer. There is a website that allows you to record messages and share them with your friends. I’ve used it in these blogs.
  • Create a pictorial record of the vision. If you’re an artist, draw the vision. You may even have received the revelation from God more as a vision than as words whispered in your spirit. Be careful to include enough in the picture that the vision will be clear when you look at it next week, next month or next year.
  • Create a scrapbook for the vision. This record may include images and words that bring to life the revelation God has given.
  • Create a “treasure box” for the vision. Spend some time filling a box with items that bring the revelation to life in your mind and spirit. If God spoke a specific Scripture, write it out and include it in your treasure box. Find objects or symbols that represent the completion of the revelation or the process that will bring it to pass.

The goal is to record the revelation, making it clear, so that it points toward what God has revealed that He will do. This step is important because God makes it clear in verse 3 that “these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.”

Our microwave generation doesn’t do “slowly and steadily” well. Having God’s revelation documented helps us in those times when we begin to wonder if He will ever move on our behalf.

Finally, God gives Habakkuk and us instruction and reassurance: “If the vision seems slow in becoming a reality, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Having just said that it would occur “slowly and steadily” God wants to make sure we understand that it is not being delayed. In other words, no one is stopping the flow of His plan. No person or demon is delaying His plan. The writer of Hebrews encourages us similarly:

35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 8But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Hebrews 10 (NIV)

We’re not to lose confidence, but to live by faith. Our life journey as a Christian is a walk of faith. Paul writes the same thing:

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17 (NIV)

Where is it written? In Habakkuk 2:4. In verses 2-3 we’ve seen God telling Habakkuk to write the revelation and make it clear. God then turns to the message He wants Habbakuk to communicate and He begins with this profound statement:

“See, [the proud or wicked man] is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous will live by his faith—
Habakkuk 2:4 (NIV)

Isn’t that wonderful – all the way back in the Old Testament, God’s message of salvation by faith is clear! While the Old Testament provides the Law – rules and regulations about how to live a life of holiness, it also clearly points to salvation being the result of faith, not the result of following the Law. That message is embodied in the life and teaching of Jesus and written and made clear in the New Testament epistles. I love how this Book we’re reading paints a consistent, cohesive story!

What a great passage! Are you seeking God for answers to your challenges? Are you documenting His answers clearly? Then are you holding on to the revelation He’s given as you walk toward its fulfillment? That’s living by faith. Walking in such a way that you are always preparing for and expecting the fulfillment of God’s revelation. It’s where I want to live my life – in the adventure of God’s revelation. Will you join me? As my pastor would say, “Cowabunga, Dude!”

 

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 1 (Habakkuk chapter 1)

I like the book of Habakkuk! It was part of our Resting at the River’s Edge reading this week and I was so blessed by it. The book records Habakkuk’s cries to God for justice and God’s responses. It is filled with despair and hope; Habakkuk’s reality in this world and His faith-filled response to it.

When I sat down to write several hours ago, I thought I would write a single blog that would pull a few verses from the book that bless me. As I began to study it more, however, and it soon became apparent that more than one blog would be needed to share Habakkuk’s world and faith with you. So as you begin to read this short series of blogs, my prayer is this:

Lord, open our spirits to hear His message for each of us – spoken through Your Word and Your Voice heard deep within our spirit. Teach us Your Ways and give us hearts to be transformed. For the glory of Your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.

Habakkuk sees the world around him and asks God “How long?” Ultimately his cry is not answered, but the prophet stands in faith waiting for it with great tenacity and hope. My breath is taken away by his closing prayer…but that’s a message you’ll read about a couple of blogs from now. Let’s start with Habakkuk’s first lament and the Lord’s response. If you are reading the King James Version, the first verse is translated like this:

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
Habakkuk 1:1 (KJV)

Notice that what you are about to read is Habakkuk’s burden – it is his heart’s cry to see justice. Instead all he sees around him is destruction, violence, strife and conflict. The book isn’t recording the annoyance that Habakkuk is experiencing today. It is the burden of his heart and he brings it before the Lord. Let’s read a portion of what he says to God.

2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?

3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Habakkuk 1:2-3 (NIV)

I don’t want to diminish Habakkuk’s circumstances – he was looking at the nation of Israel and seeing destruction – but I when I read the verses I personalize them. There have been times in my life when I cried out to God “How long must I call for help but you don’t listen, Lord?” Perhaps you have experienced times when it feels like your life is falling apart around you and you’re about to fall with it. Perhaps there have been times when you’ve been on the receiving end of injustice, destruction and strife. Take heart! God answers Habakkuk’s cry:

Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV)

It’s as if God whispers in Habakkuk’s ear – “Just watch this! I am about to do something you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes!” Notice that God didn’t just start doing things in response to Habakkuk’s prayer – he simply told Habakkuk that He was going to do things. This teaches me several things about God and His ways:

1 – God wants to reveal His plans to us – He wants to draw our attention to what He is doing. Check out this verse:

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7 (NIV)

The Lord does nothing without first revealing His plans! That excites me! Let’s keep praying “Lord, show me Your ways! Draw my attention to the things You are doing so that I might give you glory.” That is my prayer during this month of thanksgiving – that He would open my eyes more and more to the things He is doing so that I can give Him glory. Our God is a God who constantly reveals Himself and His plans to us. Whether through His Word, the world He created around us, a conversation with a friend, or His whisper in our ear, He makes His ways known.

2 – God is actively involved in growing our faith muscle – our journey with the Lord is a walk of faith, not sight. We hear Him whisper in our ear “watch this” and then He shows us His awesome power and glory. He puts it into our heart to pray for something, but doesn’t answer immediately because to do so would reduce Him to a heavenly gumball machine – we put our prayers in and immediately receive gumball that satisfies our craving for sweetness and activity! Yes, God answers our prayers, but He answers them according to His will and His plans for us and for the world. Often times that means we wait for our answers. During the waiting, our faith is challenged and we are shaped into the image of Christ. We learn to curb that craving for sweet things and powerless activity while we wait for the richness of God’s presence and the powerful anointing of His Spirit.

3 – Our God is a God of hope. The time was not yet right for God to interrupt Habakkuk’s world. So instead of leaving Habakkuk to dwell in the midst of despair alone, God whispered in his ear “I’m coming…just a little while…and it’s going to be glorious!” When life is at its darkest, we can agree with the prophet Jeremiah:

21Yet there is one ray of hope: 22his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. 23Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day. 24My soul claims the Lord as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him. 25The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him, to those who seek for him. 26It is good both to hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:21-26 (TLB)

Whew! Three wonderful lessons about the nature of God which fill us with confidence and hope in the midst of the most dismal circumstances. What a great start in this small book of Habakkuk! Chapter 2 continues the lesson…but would make for quite a long blog, so I’m going to resist moving on. Let’s use the next couple of days to let God’s goodness work its way deep into our Spirit before moving on.

I pray, friends, that today and tomorrow you would experience God’s revelatory nature – that He would reveal Himself and His plans to you in a greater way than He has before. I pray that you would be aware of (and joyful in) is activity in your life. That you would know that you know that you know that He is a God of hope – His compassion never ends. I pray that you would experience the goodness in hoping and waiting quietly for God’s response to your challenging circumstances.

 

Looking forward in anticipation to hearing from you and sharing the next passage from Habakkuk with you.

In the meantime…Enjoy God!

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

A Season for Praise & Reading

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

And the month of July, in addition to falling during our Summer of Praise, is the season for reading Ecclesiastes this year! We’ll follow that up with several minor prophets – Joel, Amos, Obadiah and Jonah. In late July, we’ll relax with some Psalms.

In the New Testament, we’ll read Galatians, Philippians and begin the Gospel of Mark.

Here are just a few great Scriptures from the passages we’ll read this month:

To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:26

Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence.
Ecclesiastes 8:3a

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.
Joel 2:1

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
Joel 2:28-32

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7

The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.
Obadiah 1:15

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.
Jonah 2:8-9

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11

We’ve got some great reading ahead of us,  friends! Enjoy it!

Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for July is below.

To download a PDF of the July 2011 recommended reading plan, click here.

Watching the Church Grow & Develop and Reading some Poetry

As we Rest at the River’s Edge in May, we’ll spend most of our time doing two things:

Watching the church grow and develop as we read through the book of Acts

Enjoying poetry as we read some Psalms and the Song of Songs (often called Song of Solomon)

As spring develops, don’t lose focus on what’s important, but feel free to take your Bible and notebook outside and enjoy some spring weather!

Blessings,
Sandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In yesterday’s blog, “But” Out, I encouraged all of us to leave the “but” out when giving thanks. Often we know that we have much to be thankful for, but… And that “but” robs us of the joy of the blessing. I am blessed to have a nice home, but it needs a new roof and I can’t afford one right now. I am blessed to be able to write this blog, but there’s so much more I want to do with Apprehending Grace Ministries and I simply don’t have the time. In each case, I rejoice over the blessing, but before that rejoicing is fully enjoyed, the “but” steals all or part of my joy. So let’s choose to leave the “but” out so that we can fully enjoy the blessing!

There is, however, a time for putting the “but” in, and that’s when we are focusing on the “buts” of God. Two of my favorite phrases in the Bible are “but God…” and “but the Lord…” They are the phrases that indicate a tremendous change in circumstance that would not have happened had it not been for a sovereign move of our Lord on behalf of an individual or group of people. There are many verses in the Bible where you’ll find these phrases. I’ve organized a few of them according to the action God took when He sovereignly interrupted others’ lives throughout history. We can count on God to do the same thing in our lives.


God’s Supernatural Protection

Day after day Saul searched for [David], but God did not give David into his hands.
1 Samuel 23:14b

You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
Psalm 14:6

I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.
Psalm 118:13

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.
Psalm 34:19

We can trust God to protect us when we are in danger and when others attack us or seek our destruction.


God’s Supernatural Care and Provision

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
Genesis 8:1

I love this verse – “But God remembered Noah…” It gives me confidence that when I have stepped out for Him, as Noah did, He will remember me and send whatever is needed to care and provide for me.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73: 26

Sometimes we can’t see what God is doing – in the natural it seems that our flesh and heart are failing. Even in those times, God can be our strength and we have the promise that He is our portion (or inheritance) forever.

God’s Supernatural Move to Accomplish His Will
I love this category of verses. God moves in and through the lives of people, despite their circumstances and abilities, to accomplish His will. I love it because of the promise that His plan will be accomplished and I love it because it promises that He can use me despite my circumstances and abilities.

[Joseph is speaking to his brothers and says] “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50:20

21“We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22Before our eyes the LORD sent miraculous signs and wonders—great and terrible—upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers.
Deuteronomy 6:21-23

9Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
Acts 7:9-10

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

14Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
Amos: 7:14-15

But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 1:17

God can intervene in the midst of our rebellion. Sometimes that intervention is unpleasant because God knows what is required to get our attention and turn us around. Jonah repented in the belly of the great fish and cried out to the Lord for help. God did just that and Jonah went on to preach to the Ninevites who all repented and turned to the Lord.

God’s Supernatural Insight

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b

God’s Supernatural Healing

Indeed he [Epaphroditus] was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.
Philippians 2:30


God’s Supernatural Salvation

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.
2 Samuel 14:14

This is another of my favorite verses. Death seems so final and irreversible…“But God…devises ways…” I love serving a God of infinite possibilities.

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.
Psalm 49:15

23This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Acts 2:23-24

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

This is the verse that God used most when I was struggling to understand Him and trust Him with my life. I was resisting Him, but He loved me through it.

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7

We were dead in our transgressions and sins, “but God” chose to give us life. Not just any life, but life in Christ. And He chose to raise us up with Him and seat us with Him in heavenly realms. Why? So that in the coming ages He might show us the incomparable riches of His grace.

“But God…”
No matter what our circumstances are, we can trust that God will move to change them. In an instant, our story will change from “I am in great need” to “but God provided for me;” or “but God delivered me.” I didn’t include all the instances of God interrupting the flow of history and changing life circumstances. If you’ve been reading the references, you noticed that the verses come from both the Old and New Testament and cover from the beginning of time through all of eternity. God has always been at work in the lives of His people (and often in the lives of those who deny Him) and He always will be.

Yesterday we were encouraged to leave the “but” out of our thanksgiving. Today, I am encouraging to put the “but God” into our circumstances. Trust the God you know to meet your needs, whether they are for healing, provision, comfort or salvation. He has proven Himself faithful over the millennia – why should we choose to believe the lies of satan that He will abandon us now?

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If you’re anything like me, sometimes you wonder what you can possible get from reading some passages of Scripture. Reading along with the Resting at the River’s Edge plans, we’ve come to Amos this week. Perhaps you wondered what you could possibly glean from Amos.

Here’s a quick look at the verses that jumped out at me from yesterday’s reading of Amos 1-4:

Amos 3:

2 “You only have I chosen
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your sins.”

  • God disciplines those He loves. Thank You, Lord, for disciplining me for my good and Your glory. Thank You, Lord, for not leaving me as I am but helping me to become more than I ever thought I could be.

7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

  • Hallelujah – I can know the plans of God. I can trust that He will reveal them. I can know what God is doing in the earth and I can become a part of that effort.

Amos 4:

13 He who forms the mountains,
creates the wind,
and reveals his thoughts to man,
he who turns dawn to darkness,
and treads the high places of the earth—
the LORD God Almighty is his name.

  • He is God Almighty! Hallelujah! He is the One who has formed the mountains that rise majestically from the earth. He is the one who created the wind that brings refreshment or devastation. He is the One who chooses to reveal His thoughts to man. He is the only One who can turn dawn into darkness (and darkness to Dawn). He is the One who treads where man cannot go. The Lord God Almighty is His name!

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The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
          Psalm 25:14 (NIV)

How cool is that? The Lord confides in those who fear (honor, revere) Him. God has been whispering to my husband and I lately. Many of you know that my husband, Phil, had a heart attack last week. It was a very serious one, but it appears that he will fully recover from it. I’m not ready to blog a lot about the experience, but in today’s reading I read Psalm 25:14. And I want to express to all of you my incredible thankfulness to a wonderful God of mercy, grace and power, who confides in those who fear Him.

During and since the heart attack God has spoken to us  – through other people, through His Word, through strong impressions in our heart, and through dreams. All have been consistent messages – Phil will be fine. Coupled with that was often a reminder of God’s promise of salvation  – the covenant He has with us  – that He will be with us always and that when this life is over, we will be with Him forever.

For today’s blog, let me just be one of those people who reminds you of the Covenant God has with you. If you have made Jesus the leader and Lord of your life, He promises that He will be with you through the most difficult times, that He will be there at the end of those times when you walk back into the sunlight of “normal” living, and that He will be with you when those times are ultimately over and your true life begins in heaven. In the midst of those difficult times you can experience peace. In the midst of those difficult times, and in between the difficult times of life, you can experience joy.

God will confide in you. What a wonderful promise. There’s another verse like it that often amazes me…

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
       Amos 3:7 (NIV)

God wants to speak to us. What a wonderful, personal God we serve! Stay close to Him and listen.

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